“You get in life what you have the courage to ask.” Oprah Winfrey
I’m a little late to the One Word challenge issued online here, on twitter (#oneword), and, closer to home, by West Vancouver Schools Superintendent Chris Kennedy in blog post earlier this month. What is the challenge? Quite simple: in the place of setting a New Year’s resolution, choose one word to describe your hopes, dreams, and focus for the upcoming year. I thought this would be easy … I thought wrong. Choosing just one word has become quite the challenge. How do I sum up intentions for myself, my relationships, and my personal and professional growth, with just one word?
It has taken me twenty-nine days to decide, or rather commit, to one word. Maybe my one word should be commitment…
My one word for 2016 is ask.
Not question. Ask.
As an educator, I frequently encourage students to question. To consider a big idea or an opinion and to question how this knowledge or understanding relates to their lives. So why did I not choose the word “question”?
For me, the word question can also mean to challenge or to judge. While these skills are at times worthwhile, questioning from this vantage point shuts down conversations. Under the guise of questioning, we are in fact showcasing faults or poking holes in another person’s opinion. Questioning is more about me and my ideas, and less about us and furthering our collective understanding. Questions become the end product, almost an absolution of responsibility to assist in finding the answers.
I purposefully chose the word ask. I know that I can question. I can even ask questions. But my intention for 2016 is to ask. To me, asking is the equivalence of an invitation– a desire and longing to work together to seek a shared understanding. Asking can be a journey where no party will be left alone; there is an implied ‘us.’ Asking is the beginning of an action, a willingness to wonder, a commitment to engagement, and a reception to feedback.
So in 2016 I will ask. Ask how I can assist and serve, yet also ask others for help. Ask for clarification and commitment from others, and ask for feedback to improve my interactions and practice. Ask what can be done and how we will collectively get there.